Tag Archives: The Every Child Achieves Act of 2015

Teach the Vote’s Week in Review: Sept. 4, 2015

Before we highlight some of this week’s education news stories, we at ATPE want to wish everyone a restful and enjoyable Labor Day Weekend!

The Texas Education Agency (TEA) today released statewide passing rates for the STAAR math exams in grades three through eight. The agency reported that math passing rates rose compared to the previous year for grades three, four, and seven, but declined in grades six and eight. Passing rates for grade five were considered stable. Click here to view TEA’s full press statement.

TEA also released updated guidance today for school districts on changes to testing requirements. The “To the Administrator Addressed” correspondence notes changes to the contract awarded to vendors to administer the state’s assessment program, provides information on policies for the use of calculators during certain math and science exams, and gives details on some changes enacted as a result of legislation passed earlier this year. Regarding math standards, TEA writes, “The Student Success Initiative (SSI) grade-advancement requirements are being reinstituted for mathematics in the 2015–2016 school year.” The agency did not provide any information, however, about a new pilot program to allow for locally-developed assessments of students’ writing skills in lieu of the STAAR writing tests, which was part of Rep. Gary VanDeaver’s HB 1164 that also passed the legislature this year. Today’s correspondence also includes the schedule for release of STAAR tests in 2016. Read the full letter here on the TEA website.

In other testing news, TEA issued a press release yesterday touting an increase in the number of Texas students taking SAT and AP exams. TEA writes, “The 179,131 Texas public school students who took the SAT in 2014-2015 reflects an increase of 9.2 percent from 2013-2014. For the third consecutive year, more Hispanic students (73,635) than white students (59,921) took the SAT in Texas public schools. In addition, the 255,250 Texas public school students who took AP exams in 2014-2015 represents an increase of 13.3 percent from 2013-2014. That percentage increase is more than double the national growth of six percent.” Read the full press release here.

The public comment period on a proposal to water down certification requirements for superintendent candidates opens today. As we have reported before on Teach the Vote, the State Board for Educator Certification (SBEC) gave preliminary approval last month to a proposed rule change that would remove teaching and principal experience, among other critical skills, from the requirements to become a certified superintendent in Texas. ATPE Lobbyist Kate Kuhlmann testified against the proposed change that would allow individuals to become superintendents without first obtaining a principal’s certificate, a master’s degree, and at least two years of experience working as a classroom teacher. The ATPE Legislative Program, written and adopted by our members each year, recommends that administrators have at least five years of teaching experience. SBEC will make a final decision on the proposal at its October 16 meeting, but not before the public has an opportunity to submit input on the controversial move. Any interested members of the public can submit written comments to SBEC; find additional details on how to submit your formal comments here. The public comment period will remain open through Oct. 5.

ATPE Lobbyists Josh Sanderson and Monty Exter wrote on our blog this week about the Texas Supreme Court’s Tuesday hearing in the latest school finance case. Sanderson, who attended and live-tweeted his updates from the hearing, explained in his blog post that differences in the funding levels available to districts under the current school finance system represent “a glaring disparity.” Exter provided links to documents and other news stories relating to the lawsuit, which is the latest in a long line of school funding cases spanning three decades in Texas.

ATPE Executive Director Gary Godsey and several ATPE leaders were featured in media reports about the school finance case heading back to court this week.  A press statement by ATPE Executive Director Gary Godsey was published in Houston Style Magazine, while ATPE State Secretary Carl Garner gave an interview to Fox 4 News in the Dallas-Ft. Worth area on Tuesday. Austin’s KXAN News reported on how inadequate funding often leads schools to seek waivers of the state’s 22:1 class-size limit in elementary grades; ATPE Lobbyist Josh Sanderson and ATPE member Stephanie Stoebe were featured in that news story on Monday.

Minnesota Congressman John Kline (R) has announced that he will not seek re-election in 2016. Kline has chaired the House Committee on Education and the Workforce since 2010; that committee is overseeing efforts in the House to reauthorize the outdated Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), commonly known as No Child Left Behind (NCLB). In a statement issued yesterday, Kline said, “I look forward to continuing my efforts to replace No Child Left Behind” during the remaining 16 months of his term. Kline is chairing a conference committee that has been established to try to iron out differences between two bills passed by the U.S. House and Senate to reauthorize and overhaul ESEA/NCLB. The House passed a Kline-authored bill known as the Student Success Act, while the Senate passed its own version called the Every Child Achieves Act earlier this summer.

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Stay tuned to our Teach the Vote blog and follow us on Twitter for updates on the continuing reauthorization efforts this fall.




Congress begins ESEA conference work

Education leaders in the U.S. Congress met yesterday to begin the process of brokering a compromise bill to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), or No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act. The bipartisan group of four lawmakers leading the conference committee process met to lay the groundwork for negotiations that are expected to continue over the coming months.

The familiar cast of characters are Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA), as well as House Committee on Education and the Workforce Chairman John Kline (R-MN) and Ranking Member Robert Scott (D-VA). House Chairman John Kline was chosen to chair the conference committee and the two chambers will now proceed with appointing conferees. The leaders and appointed conferees will face a big lift: negotiating a compromise bill that satisfies both chambers and the president. The U.S. House passed its version of a bill to reauthorize ESEA, H.R. 5 – The Student Success Act of 2015, on June 8, and the U.S. Senate quickly followed, passing S. 1177 – The Every Child Achieves Act of 2015 on June 16.

The four leaders each issued statements following the initial meeting:

Senate Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN): “Fifty million children and 3.5 million teachers deserve to get a result, and we should be able to achieve that this fall. While there are important differences, the consensus supporting the framework for the House and Senate bills is the same: Continue the law’s important measurements of academic progress of students but restore to states, school districts, classroom teachers and parents the responsibility for deciding what to do about improving student achievement.”

House Chairman John Kline (R-MN): “There is a lot of work to do in the coming months, and I am confident we will be able to craft a bicameral education bill that reduces the federal role, restores local control, and empowers parents and education leaders. Those are the kind of education reforms the American people expect and we must deliver. I look forward to continuing this important effort and putting in place new policies that will help every child in every school receive an excellent education.”

Senate Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA): “I am proud of the bipartisan work we did in the Senate to reach this point, and I am hopeful that we can build on this bipartisan foundation to take the final steps to get this bill to the president’s desk. As we head toward conference, I look forward to continuing to improve the final bill to make sure all students have access to a good education, regardless of where they live, how they learn, or how much money their parents make.”

House Ranking Member Robert Scott (D-VA): “The right to educational opportunity knows no state boundaries, and federal law must protect this right for all students regardless of race, income, disability, or language status. I am confident that working together, we will produce a comprehensive reauthorization that fulfills the ESEA’s original civil rights legacy. I stand committed to producing a bipartisan bill that eliminates resource inequities and effectively addresses achievement gaps.”

Expect negotiations ahead to largely center around accountability. Democrats want accountability to be strengthened under both bills, particularly with regard to educating student subgroups. Meanwhile, Republicans want to reduce mandates and see the federal government play a lesser role, instead giving more flexibility to states and local school districts. Many contentions over the bill remain between the two chambers and between Congress and President Obama; stay tuned!

U.S. Senate passes bipartisan overhaul of ESEA

After more than a week of debate, the U.S. Senate reached a final agreement on a bill to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), or No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act. The body approved the new bill, The Every Child Achieves Act of 2015, with strong support and in a bipartisan manner, with a final vote of 81-17. The Texas delegation split its votes with Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) voting in favor and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) voting in opposition to the bill.

The Every Child Achieves Act was originally filed in April after its authors, Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA), spent months negotiating the bill. It quickly received a markup in committee and advanced to the Senate floor where debate on the bill began last week.

Throughout the process, the Senate bill was tightly managed in order to maintain strong and bipartisan support. Such a process has become rare for the Senate and is a stark contrast to the process seen in the House, where last week the body passed its own version of a reauthorization bill, known as The Student Success Act of 2015, with only Republican support. President Obama has expressed his intention to veto the House bill while being seemingly more supportive of the Senate bill. The two bodies will now be charged with negotiating a final bill that can pass both chambers and receive the President’s final approval.

The Senate bill

The final Senate bill maintains the crux of the bill as it was filed and left committee: it eliminates adequate yearly progress (AYP) and instead allows states to create their own accountability systems; maintains the annual federal testing schedule while adding limited flexibility for certain states and school districts; eliminates federal teacher evaluation system requirements; retains disaggregated data reporting requirements for student subgroups; mandates the adoption of challenging state standards but prohibits the federal government from having influence over that process; and requires states to identify struggling schools but allows states to determine the method(s) of intervention.

During the week-long debate on the floor of the Senate, 68 of the 78 considered amendments were adopted. Perhaps the most high-profile was one authored by Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC), which changes the formula used for calculating the amount of Title I dollars sent to states. Under the new formula, many states would stand to see gains in overall funding (including Texas, which is projected to see an increase in funding of more than $190 million) but several states would see significant loss. The funding formula change did ultimately make it onto the bill, but it would only go into effect once overall Title I funding hits $17 billion. (Title I funding is currently around $14.5 billion.)

Another highly anticipated amendment failed to receive enough votes to pass. The amendment was one authored by Democrats who support the bill’s overall intent to loosen the onerous federal accountability standards but feel the flexibility goes too far in that it fails to ensure the most disadvantaged students are properly educated. The amendment would have added requirements for educating student subgroups and intervening in struggling schools. While the amendment ultimately failed, it received the backing of almost every Democrat and one Republican.

Democrats were not the only members to suffer a big ticket item loss. The Senate also failed to pass Sen. Alexander’s voucher amendment that would have allowed Title I funding to follow students to the public or private school of their choice. This is often referred to as Title I portability. A similar portability amendment was later offered by Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) and that amendment also failed. Sen. Scott’s version would have allowed money to follow the child to the public school of their choice but left out the private school voucher option. The House bill contains a provision that allows Title I portability within public schools for eligible students.

A few other noteworthy adopted amendments include an amendment by Sen. Bennet (D-CO) that requires states to establish a limit on the overall amount of time spent on assessments and an amendment by Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) that establishes a full-service community schools grant. Only one of the considered amendments was offered by a senator from Texas, Sen. Cruz, and that amendment fell short of the required vote threshold.

Moving forward

This is the first time the U.S. Senate has passed a comprehensive overhaul of ESEA since 2001, and while momentous, there is still work to be done.

Because both chambers have advanced separate versions of a bill to reauthorize ESEA, the legislation will next face a conference committee. The Senate and House will each assign members to sit on the committee, which will be expected to draft a compromise bill that satisfies both chambers as well as the President. That committee is sure to debate many of the items mentioned above. For example, Republicans will want to maintain their only provision aimed at school choice, the Title I public school portability piece contained in the House bill. Meanwhile, Democrats will fight for increased accountability measures such as those proposed in the Senate, and while the Senate Democratic accountability amendment failed, it did receive a strong backing from Democrats, which strongly positions it as their bargaining chip in conference committee.

Stay tuned to Teach the Vote as ESEA reauthorization moves forward in the U.S. Congress.

More details on U.S. Senate HELP committee’s ESEA reauthorization bill

The U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) met last week to markup a bipartisan bill to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) or No Child Left Behind (NCLB). The committee considered over 50 amendments to The Every Child Achieves Act of 2015, which is co-authored by Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA), and ultimately passed the measure unanimously, 22-0.

The markup was conducted over a three day period that was closely managed by both authors in order to prevent controversial amendments from jeopardizing the bill’s bipartisan path forward. In the end, of the 57 amendments considered, 29 were adopted. Controversial amendments including issues such as vouchers and teacher evaluation requirements were kept off of the bill, but those debates are still expected to be had when the bill hits the full senate. Leaders have said that will be later this year, but no debate has been scheduled yet.

Below is a listing of the amendments passed during the committee markup as well as a few noteworthy amendments either withdrawn or defeated during committee.

Amendments adopted:

  • Amendment by Baldwin: creates grants for enhanced assessment instruments and audits of state and local assessment systems.
  • Amendment by Baldwin: requires the reporting of students with career and technical proficiency on report cards.
  • Amendment by Baldwin: provides grants to initiate, expand, and improve physical education programs.
  • Amendment by Baldwin: authorizes grants to encourage the use of technology to improve college and career readiness.
  • Amendment by Bennet: reduces the burden on districts with regard to reporting data for annual report cards.
  • Amendment by Bennet: pertains to financial literacy and federal financial aid awareness efforts.
  • Amendment by Bennet: allows funds to be used for the creation of teacher and principal preparation academies.
  • Amendment by Bennet: increases engagement from the U.S. Secretary of Education to assist rural school districts with competitive grants.
  • Amendment by Bennet: creates grants for education innovation and research aimed at high-needs students.
  • Amendment by Bennet: establishes a weighted student funding flexibility pilot program.
  • Amendment by Burr: alters the funding formula for teachers and leaders to be based 80 percent on poverty and 20 percent on population.
  • Amendment by Burr: adds a hold-harmless provision for Title II formula funding for teachers and leaders by mandating a 14.29 percent reduction each year over seven years. This amendment barely passed: 11-10.
  • Amendment by Casey: authorizes funding for Ready-To-Learn Television.
  • Amendment by Casey: reinserts hold-harmless language in Title II, Part A. This amendment was later amended by Burr’s narrowly passed hold-harmless amendment mentioned above.
  • Amendment by Casey: creates a grant program for districts that wish to reduce exclusionary discipline practices.
  • Amendment by Collins: creates an Innovative Assessment and Accountability Pilot.
  • Amendment by Franken: reinstates the Elementary and Secondary School Counseling program.
  • Amendment by Franken: allows computer-adapted testing and adds other assessment criteria.
  • Amendment by Franken: supports accelerated learning programs.
  • Amendment by Franken: adds language to improve STEM instruction and achievement.
  • Amendment by Franken: creates a grant program for schools that utilize Native American languages for instruction with their students.
  • Amendment by Isakson: allows parents to opt out of testing.
  • Amendment by Mikulski: adds the Javits Gifted/Talented Students Education Act of 2015.
  • Amendment by Murkowski: reinstates 21st Century Community Learning Centers.
  • Amendment by Murphy: ensures that states work to reduce physical and mental abuse related to seclusion/restraint.
  • Amendment by Murray: requires reporting of data on military-connected students.
  • Amendment by Murray:  authorizes Project SERV allowing for services to schools in the aftermath of violent events.
  • Amendment by Murray:  authorizes early learning alignment and improvement grants.
  • Amendment by Whitehouse: establishes a program for literacy and arts education.

Additional amendments of note:

  • Amendment by Scott: would have given states the option to let Title I funds follow a student to any school, including private schools. Scott ultimately withdrew his portability amendment because of the controversial nature, but this is likely to be an amendment debated on the senate floor. Chairman Alexander said he looked forward to voting for such an amendment in the full senate.
  • Amendment by Warren: would have required states to describe how methods used for evaluation were reasonable and reliable, if a state chose to implement an evaluation system. Chairman Alexander said it would unnecessarily put federal requirements on state evaluation systems. The amendment failed on a 10-12 roll call vote.
  • Amendments by Alexander and Casey: would have dealt with bullying. The two offered dueling amendments regarding bullying and underwent extensive debate. Both eventually withdrew their amendments with the expectation to debate the issue again on the senate floor.

Other amendment topics not adopted in committee markup but that could be addressed on the senate floor include Title I comparability (a means of equalizing funding between schools with differing levels of need), interventions for struggling schools, and additional targeted support for certain student populations. Stay tuned for updates once a floor debate is scheduled.

Legislative Update: ESEA reauthorization news, idling voucher and salary bills, special election and rally reminders

Congress took a major step forward in the effort to reauthorize the long overdue Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), which is commonly referred to as the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act. Yesterday, April 16, the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) unanimously approved a bipartisan compromise bill called the Every Child Achieves Act of 2015 (ECAA). A total of 87 committee amendments were filed, with 29 of them adopted and incorporated into the bill. The ECAA must still pass the full Senate, which could happn as early as May. In the meantime, the rare 22-0 committee vote sends a strong signal to the U.S. House, where prior attempts to pass a reauthorization bill have faltered amid partisan disagreements. ATPE Lobbyist Kate Kuhlmann will have a full analysis of the bill as amended that will be posted soon here on Teach the Vote.

A high-profile bill to create a massive private school voucher program in Texas has not yet been brought up for a vote on the Senate floor, despite sitting on the Senate Intent Calendar for several days now. Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick (R) has identified the bill, Senate Bill (SB) 4, as a top education priority. SB 4 is being carried by Sen. Larry Taylor (R), who chairs the Senate Education Committee. The bill sets up a  “back door” voucher by using state funds to give a franchise tax credit to businesses that donate money to private, state-sanctioned “educational assistance organizations.” The 25 non-profit organizations pre-selected to act as those educational assistance organizations would then provide scholarships for eligible students to attend private or parochial schools.

SB 4 would cause local public school districts to lose revenue, and the costs of the state program would likely swell as existing private or home-schooled students avail themselves of the state-funded scholarships. ATPE members are strongly urged to contact their legislators – especially in the Senate – to express opposition to SB 4. Visit our Officeholders page to find out who represents you in the Senate, and click here to access additional information and talking points on ATPE’s opposition to SB 4.

ATPE members are also encouraged to keep contacting their state representatives and asking them to oppose HB 2543 and SB 893, two bills that would eliminate the state’s current minimum salary schedule for teachers. These bills remain pending in the Texas House, where opposition to them is growing. Read more about the bills here.

As always, you can keep up with major education bills moving through the 84th Legislature that relate to ATPE’s priorities by visiting our Issues page. The Issues page, which is updated each legislative day, contains background information on each legislative priority with a list of major bills and their current status. Be sure also to follow @TeachtheVote and our ATPE Lobby Team on Twitter, for additional reporting of all the education news from the state capitol.

The State Board of Education (SBOE) also met this week. Its work included approving two new math courses to satisfy high school graduation requirements, agreeing on new curriculum standards for Career and Technical Education courses, discussing high-school equivalency examinations, and adopting findings of an Ad Hoc Committee on the Long-Range Plan for Public Education. The ad hoc committee is being disbanded, and SBOE’s Committee on School Initiatives will take over long-range planning responsibility going forward. Read more on the Texas Education Agency’s website.

Vote imageEducators in San Antonio’s House District 124 are reminded of the importance to go vote in the special election runoff to select their new state representative. Today is the last day of early voting, and Tuesday, April 21, is runoff election day.

The candidates vying to replace Jose Menendez, who was recently elected to the Texas Senate in another special election, are Democrats Ina Minjarez and Delicia Herrera. View their candidate profiles to learn more about their backgrounds and positions on education issues here.

The Save Texas Schools rally is taking place tomorrow at the State Capitol from 10 a.m. to noon. Educators are encouraged to attend and show their support for public schools. Click here to learn more about the event.

Legislative Update: From school finance to suicide prevention, a slew of bills set for hearings this week

The House Public Education Committee has moved up its usual meeting time to allow for more bills to be heard on a single day. Starting at 8 a.m. tomorrow, April 14, the committee will consider 19 bills, including Chairman Jimmie Don Aycock’s (R-Killeen) school finance overhaul, HB 1759. Originally filed as a placeholder bill, Aycock revealed details of his school finance plan last week and will hear public testimony on the bill this week.

Other legislation on tomorrow’s agenda include bills by Rep. Eddie Rodriguez (D-Austin) promoting the use of a Community Schools Model to turnaround struggling schools, along with a less favorable bill by Rep. Harold Dutton (D-Houston) calling for alternative management of certain low-performing schools through a statewide Opportunity School District. The Senate Education Committee already heard and took action on some of the same proposals last week, as we reported previously on our blog.

Also on the agenda for the House Public Education Committee tomorrow is HB 2186 by Rep. Byron Cook (R-Corsicana), a bill pertaining to suicide prevention training for certain school district employees. ATPE asked Rep. Cook to carry the bill on the request of one of our members, Coach Kevin Childers from the Fairfield Independent School District.

hb 2186 testimony infographic

Coach Childers lost his teenage son Jonathan to suicide in 2013 and plans to testify in support of HB 2186. The bill aims to modify existing law that requires certain educators and school district employees to be trained in recognizing possible warning signs for suicidal thoughts by students; HB 2186 attempts to ensure that the training occurs on an annual basis. The bill is being referred to as the “Suicide Prevention Training Act in memory of Jonathan Childers.” Click on our infographic to the right to learn more about the teen suicide epidemic and our efforts to help prevent it.

The Senate Education Committee will meet at 9 a.m. tomorrow, April 14, to hear bills relating to charter schools and a handful of other matters. View the full agenda with links to the individual bills here. Remember also that you can watch live or archived video of most education committee hearings through Texas Legislature Online.

A private school voucher bill is on the move and headed for a likely floor debate this week or next. ATPE has urged its members to contact their senators about SB 4 by Sen. Larry Taylor (R-Friendswood). Read more about the bill here. Also likely to be considered on the Senate floor this week is the upper chamber’s version of House Bill 1, the state budget.

The House Committee on Ways and Means has a high-profile hearing planned for Tuesday, April 14, too. The committee will take up a number of bills calling for tax cuts. ATPE has joined forces with other groups affiliated with Texas Forward, a revenue coalition that promotes a balanced approach to state budgeting, and is calling on legislators to consider these proposals very cautiously. Many education stakeholders are concerned that the loss of potentially five billion dollars in state revenue through tax cuts this session would greatly reduce the funding available for public schools and other critical needs.

Adding to tomorrow’s busy schedule, watch for the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) to mark up its new bipartisan proposal for reauthorizing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), also known as No Child Left Behind (NCLB). The hearing begins at 1:30 p.m. (Central Time) and can be viewed through the committee’s website. Read more about the new “Every Child Achieves Act of 2015” in ATPE Lobbyist Kate Kuhlmann’s recent blog post.

Later this week, watch for the House Public Education Committee’s Subcommittee on Educator Quality to consider several bills relating to educator preparation and certification. The agenda for the 8 a.m. hearing on Thursday, April 16, includes HB 3494 by Rep. Dan Huberty (R-Humble), which is the House companion to SB 892 by Sen. Kel Seliger (R-Amarillo), a bill dealing with educator preparation. ATPE originally supported SB 892 as filed, but the Senate version was changed recently to make educator preparation program admission standards and training requirements less rigorous. Read more about SB 892 in one of our recent blog posts here.

STS April 18th Rally Poster

Finish off your week of grassroots advocacy by visiting the State Capitol on Saturday to participate in this year’s Save Texas Schools rally along with other representatives of ATPE and supporters of public schools from around the state. The rally will be held from 10 a.m. to noon on April 18, featuring guest speakers and live music. Visit SaveTXSchools.org to learn more and register to attend the rally.

Public education supporters are also encouraged to help promote the rally this week by tweeting with the hashtag #WhyIRally. Use the hashtag to share your own thoughts on why it’s important to prioritize public education during the 84th legislative session, and Save Texas Schools will retweet you.

U.S. Senate education leaders release bipartisan bill to rewrite ESEA

This week the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA) released their highly anticipated bipartisan bill to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), or No Child Left Behind (NCLB). The two authors negotiated the details of the bill, The Every Child Achieves Act of 2015, over the past two months and settled on a compromise that would significantly reduce the federal government’s role in education but maintain the annual testing schedule developed under NCLB and exclude a Title I funding portability provision.

To begin, a quick refresher is in order. Chairman Alexander released a draft version of a rewrite of the nation’s primary education law in January and a series of hearings in the HELP committee immediately followed. ATPE submitted testimony in conjunction with those hearings that dealt with testing and accountability and supporting teachers and school leaders. We also weighed in on the discussion draft proposed by Alexander. Meanwhile, on the other side of the U.S. Capitol, House Committee on Education and the Workforce Chairman John Kline (R-MN) released his own version of an ESEA reauthorization bill entitled H.R. 5 – The Student Success Act. H.R. 5 quickly moved through committee in early February and was debated on the floor of the full House in late February. However, in the final hours of debate and with the threat of veto issued from the White House, House leadership delayed the vote. Leaders said that move was made in order to debate a funding bill that faced a midnight deadline, but it is widely understood that the House didn’t have the votes to pass the bill and leaders wanted to avoid an embarrassing defeat.

The Senate HELP Committee will mark up the new Alexander/Murray compromise bill next week on Tuesday, April 14, at 9 a.m. (Central Time). Visit the committee’s website to watch the mark up live or access committee documents on the bill. Some major provisions of the bill are as follows:


The Every Child Achieves Act would allow states to develop their own accountability systems, which is a departure from current law. State accountability systems would need to be approved by the U.S. Department of Education (peer review teams would be established to assist the secretary of education in the review of state plans) based on parameters outlined in the bill, such as the inclusion of graduation rates, a measure of post-secondary education or workforce readiness, proficiency rates for English language learners, and standardized test results. However, states would be able to include any additional measures of performance and would have the authority to weight all measures as they see fit. That flexibility would include how much weight is placed on student performance on standardized tests.

States would still be required to report disaggregated data on student subgroups. They would also still be required to identify low-performing schools through accountability system results, but would only monitor school districts as they implement their own methods of evidence-based intervention.


The most discussed piece of Chairman Alexander’s original draft bill was the portion on testing, which offered two options intended to spur discussion among committee members. The options were to keep the current testing schedule or scrap annual testing and give states a significant amount of leeway in developing their own testing systems. The Every Child Achieves Act maintains the annual testing schedule, but does give states the option to conduct one annual test or a series of smaller tests that combine to a summative score. Additionally, in what is likely an attempt to appease supporters of state-developed systems, the bill creates a pilot program that would initially allow the secretary of education to permit five states to develop innovative testing systems. If successful, the program could be expanded.

Curriculum Standards

States would be required to adopt “challenging state academic standards.” Those standards would not have to be approved by the Department of Education, and the bill specifically states the secretary of education would not have the authority to “mandate, direct, control, coerce, or exercise any direction or supervision” with regard to the adoption of state standards.

School Choice and Privatization

The primary provision in Alexander’s earlier draft bill aimed at school choice involved the portability of Title I funding for low-income students. That language is not included in The Every Child Achieves Act of 2015. Title I portability language has received strong backing from Republicans and would allow Title I funding to follow students from school to school. Democrats and President Obama have opposed the inclusion of such language and the White House based its threat of veto on H.R. 5, in part, on portability language included in the bill.

The new bill consolidates two federal charter school programs into a program that includes three grant programs: High-Quality Charter Schools, Facilities Financing Assistance, and Replication and Expansion. Additional language aims to incentivize better transparency and quality among state charter schools.

Educator Evaluations

States would have a lot of discretion on how to spend money related to teacher quality under Title II. That could include the development of an educator evaluation system, but no state would be required to develop a system, which is departure from current law. Thus, there is no language requiring the inclusion of student outcomes in an educator’s evaluation.

The new bill removes the statutory definition of “highly qualified” as well as some of the requirements surrounding the term and allows states to develop their own definition.